It Was A Jammies Day, Meant For Bookworms

Dear Diary,

We never got the predicted deep snow, but we did get the frigid temps.  And because we could, Zen-Den and I spent Sunday at home going nowhere.

He watched football on TV.

I read.

In fact, I finished one novel, The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn.

[I don’t do book reviews on this blog.  Instead I’ll tell you that I enjoyed this historical fiction novel because it had unique characters, a predictable but interesting plot, and explained the history of women spies during WWI, something I knew nothing about.]

Then I pulled out an Agatha Raisin mystery by M.C. Beaton because I wanted a lightweight British cozy mystery to while away the rest of the day.

As one does when one is me.

I admit I looked outside and contemplated walking into the screened-in porch to brush off the snow from the winter furniture, but that seemed like too. much. effort. for a woman in her jammies all day.

[Plus, that furniture is teak which is supposed to weather the elements so that it can develop a rich gray patina and show a little character.]  

And that, Dear Diary, is about all there is to say about Sunday instant.

I’m hoping that the temps will get up into the 20s today so I can comfortably go for a walk outside, but if not I’ll keep reading.

Up next in my TBR stack is Beartown by Fredrik Backman, so you know I’ll be enjoying the book in front of me.  Thus I say fear not, for I shall keep myself entertained while avoiding inclement weather.

Yours truly,

Ally Bean

A Cautionary Tale About Socks: One Woman’s Experience With KonMari

YOU MAY REMEMBER last fall I organized my section of our walk-in closet [discussed here].  What I didn’t tell you, my gentle readers, is that when I did that organization I adopted, sort of, the KonMari approach to tidying up said closet space.

Oh yes I did.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been 100% convinced her approach to organizing stuff is for me, but I’m open-minded so I gave it a go in our closet wherein I have a chest of drawers + a rod for hanging clothes + some shelves on which to put things.

Please note that in keeping with my experimental mindset I went full-out joy-sparking in that closet.

Uh huh.

SO LAST WEEKEND Zen-Den and I were going to dinner with friends at a nice restaurant in a swanky part of town.  I was wearing black pants, intending to wear a new pair of black leather + leopard print loafers with socks.

Black socks, obviously. Because winter is finally here and for the first time since last winter I needed to wear dark socks.

All was good in my uber-organized sock drawer, or so I thought, until I realized that during my Marie Kondo organizational purge last fall I’d saved 5 dark socks.

Five. Individual. Socks.

They are: 2 textured brown socks, 1 plain navy blue sock, 1 plain black sock, and 1 tone-on-tone patterned black sock.

APPARENTLY I GOT a little too joyful, and a trifle distracted, when I sorted through my dark socks last fall, giving the ones I didn’t want to the Salvation Army.

I think we can agree on that.

But be that as it may this situation created an interesting problem in the moment for which I had no immediate logical solution.  Thus I’ll share with you what turned out to be my four choices– and ask you to contemplate what you’d do in this situation.

My solution is in the comments below.

• • •

HERE IS THE SOCK CONUNDRUM I FACED

1) I could wear the matching brown socks that didn’t go with the black pants and cute black leather + leopard print loafers;  or

2) I could be an outlaw a la Agnes and wear many possible mismatched sock combinations;  or

3) I could go sockless on a cold winter’s night;  or

4) I could give up wearing my cute loafers and wear black boots instead, knowing no one would see my socks that way.

WHAT DO YOU THINK I DID? WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

• • •

A Life Lesson: How To Look Scruffy In Three Simple Steps Then Get Over Your Sad Self

How ‘ya doing scruffy face?

Zen-Den said this to me as he was walking into the kitchen from the garage after getting home from work.  Because I had my back to him while standing at the stove cooking ye olde supper, he couldn’t see my face.

Domesticity, we got it.

Anyhoo, while you might think this is going to be a tale about another gushy nickname, he was being literal.  There was no Chickiedoodle cuteness involved in this salutation.

~ ~ 👀 ~ ~

You see, somehow, probably while out in the forest primeval behind the house doing the fall clean-up, I got a rash on my face.

And somehow, probably by using one of the aesthetician-approved fancy Vitamin C serums that are all the rage, I exacerbated the rash.

And somehow, probably by not backing down on my doctor-prescribed retinoid, I managed to destroy my face.  Well, not literally, but my face got all red and flaky and itchy and beyond not good– straight to ugly.

~ ~ 👀 ~ ~

So there I was cooking, not looking my best nor happy about it, still feeling a twinge of self-pity, when Mr. Hilaremoose wanders into the house.  And you know what?

His ridiculous way of saying “hello” to me, even before he saw my ratty face, cheered me up instantly.

Didn’t do a thing to reduce the inflammation, but made me realize how inconsequential it is to worry about that. which. just. happens.

Laugh it off, move along.

Make dinner.

My life.

Ain’t It A Pip? Growling About Holiday Shopping, Enjoying An Animated Puppy

I’VE BEEN RUNNING AROUND THIS WEEK, looking for stuff to buy.  Not really enjoying the process, but aware of the fact that if I don’t get out there now the stuff I want will be gone.

And don’t go all check online with me.  I do that first to decide what I might want, then I allow brick and mortar stores to dazzle me with their customer service and ravishing displays.

During the holiday shopping season I give ’em a chance to please me because I’m old school.

So far, except for Barnes & Noble + Pottery Barn, stores have disappointed me. To wit, if your sales staff refuses to answer questions about your product [looking directly at you Apple] OR if you’ve opened your doors for business but none of your registers are working [giving you the side eye Crate & Barrel] then I will walk out of your store, irritated, but more aware of how little I mean to you.

Do those stores care about my lost sale?  I guess not.  Was I politely clear about how disappointed I was with my shopping experience?  Oh yes.  Will I go back into the particular location that ticked me off?  Nope.

I don’t know whether I’ll try to buy online what I went into the stores to see and experience.  The jury is out on that.  But if I do buy anything it’ll be with reluctance because I feel more like a disposal pawn, than a happy returning customer.

🎄 

BUT MOVING ONTO A CHEERY TOPIC, focusing on goodness, bringing this post full circle home via clever wordplay, I give you, my gentle readers, the following short animated film about a cute puppy named Pip.

You’re going to like this.

Get out the hankies because you’re about to be overwhelmed with the opposite of shopping frustrations. Yep, this is delightfully sweet and will warm the cockles of your heart. As they say.

I don’t know anything about this organization [I’m not affiliated with it] but this little video made me smile and feel good about life during a time of year when everyone, myself included, is running hither and yon– perhaps forgetting about the spirit of service to others.

The One About The Neighbors: What Will Be, What Isn’t Anymore, And What Is

Neighbor’s dead tree with turkey vultures [or turkey buzzards, pick your nomenclature]: I don’t like this.
WHAT WILL BE:

“Come and listen to my story bout a man named Jed, Poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed…”  

Remember The Beverly Hillbillies? And remember their theme song?

Of course you do.

Well, that’s the song that’s been stuck in brain this past weekend.

Why?

I know not for sure other than Thanksgiving is about hospitality– and somehow seeing turkey vultures lounging above our property on the neighbor’s dead tree, that leans precariously in the direction of our screened-in porch, put the tune in my mind.

I don’t know that Jed Clampett shot turkey vultures, but it seems like something he’d have done.  I do know that the dead tree will eventually fall.  Fingers crossed, not on our roof.

So there’s that.

• • •

Neighbor’s empty backyard: I like this.

WHAT ISN’T ANYMORE:

“Well the first thing you know Jed’s a millionaire, Kinfolk said Jed move away from there…”

And speaking of neighbors I’ve taken the liberty of sharing with you, my gentle readers, a photograph of their empty backyard.  A backyard that is free from a huge, formerly well-used, swing set that is no longer there.

While I admit that the kids playing on the swing set were hilarious and the squirrels frolicking on the swing set were total goofballs, I’m happy that it’s gone from my view.

The neighbor kids are old enough to drive now and the swing set has disappeared, presumably to some other backyard where it’ll be loved as much as it was here.

Change happens, eh?

• • •

Neighbor’s wistful cat: I like him.

WHAT IS:

“You’re all invited back again to this locality, To have a heaping helping of their hospitality…”  

And finally while I’m on the topic of neighbors, here is a photo of their black and white kitty cat as seen on a foggy morning.

I don’t know his name, but he occasionally likes to sit under one of our trees.  He’s a natural, knowing how to pose for the camera– and takes a darned good picture.

He’s not destructive, just inquisitive, and not afraid to hang out in our yard when so moved by his need for a little peace and quiet away from kids and dogs.

I can understand.

• • •

Questions of the Day

{ answer whichever question OR questions strike your fancy }

  1. So what’s up with your neighbors?  Any of their trees poised to fall on your house? Anything missing from their yards? Any of their pets enjoying a respite in your yard?
  2. Can you sing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song from memory like I can?  How about Gilligan’s Island theme song?  Or The Flintstone’s theme song? 
  3. Do you believe I could get any more rambling and random than I have in this post?  And how does that make you feel?

A Halloween Review: In The Rain With The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects waiting on the deck behind the house before going on stage in front of the house. 

~ ~ ~ ~

IT DRIZZLED THEN RAINED HERE last night, starting at about 6:00 p.m. just in time for the trick-or-treaters.  The temperature was in the 60s, about as warm as I’ve experienced in late October.  The night was in a word, unusual, and our reduced trick-or-treat count proved it.

In years past we’ve had anywhere from 120 to 220 beggars at the door, but this year our head count was only 60 kids.

Unheard of.

Despite the rain and because of the warm temperature, Z-D and I sat outside on our front stoop where we plopped ourselves onto two chairs he’d brought around front from the deck in the back.

There we waited to hand out candy, holding umbrellas over our heads, watching a slow parade of cute, polite kids shuffle their way across our yard, ignoring the precipitation.

Trick or treat!

~ ~ ~ ~

YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING WHY we didn’t stay inside our house, waiting for the kids to ring the doorbell.  And this would be a sensible thing for you, my gentle readers, to wonder.

But the thing is, and in my world there’s always a thinghere in Beanlandia our doorbell, a diva, is broken and has been for a few weeks.

From a distance it glows and looks useful, however if anyone pushes it the middle button thing pops out and dangles down from an electric cord.

Kind of dangerous.

The doorbell has one ring in it before it has to be manually reconfigured and placed back into the wall where it resumes its role as a pretend working doorbell.

Hence, maintaining its integrity is a bother that we avoided by sitting outside under our umbrellas in the rain.

As one does.

~ ~ ~ ~

AND WITH THAT GLIMPSE INTO the life and times of one woman, one husband, one house, I’ll end this wordy post in which I’ve discussed the weather, trick-or-treaters, and doorbells gone bad.

Scintillating, eh?

In fact, should future historians whilst looking through old personal blogs want an example of a blog post that is the epitome of flapdoodle and twaddle, I do hope they find this one.

Because if there was a point to what I said here, I dunno what it is.

Other than to say, Halloween has come and gone.  And we have a lot of leftover candy in this house.

Only 60 kids…

The Great Cobbler Debacle Of 2018 + 12 Fruit-Based Desserts Explained

In the aftermath of the debacle there were questions, reasonable ones.

How could this have happened? What recipe did you use?

I used a recipe I found online from what I thought was from a reliable source.  Fake news, meet fake recipes.  But here’s the thing, I didn’t double-check the recipe, comparing it with other recipes, like a smart person would do.

After the debacle, when I found a wonderful recipe by the Barefoot Contessa, I realized that I had used a recipe with the wrong batter to fruit ratio.

Did you set the oven to the correct temperature?

I did, but after the debacle I checked the oven temperature with a thermometer to confirm that the oven was heating like it should.  It is not.

In fact it’s heating about 25º below where it should be so the cobbler baked at the wrong temperature.  Hence, the cobbler remained a soggy mess even when it’d been in the oven for twice the suggested time.

 How much money did you waste on this debacle?

Oh, the shame.  I hang my head as I tell you that I bought raspberries and blackberries and blueberries for this untested recipe, assuming it’d be a wonderful desert.  But it wasn’t, it never even made it to the table– thus my $12.00 worth of berries were lost.

And from a good friend trying to distract me: what are the differences among the various fruit-based desserts? Do you know?

I didn’t know the answer to her question, so I did some research, which was a good way for me, an egghead, to get over the debacle.  This is what I learned.

• • •

BROWN BETTY – fresh fruit [often apples], spiced, then baked under buttered bread crumbs

BUCKLE – single layer cake that rises up around the fruit that is in the middle, making fruit buckle down, while cake forms circle above it

CLAFOUTI – fresh fruit [often cherries] covered with a flan-like batter and baked, usually in a cast iron skillet

COBBLER – fruit sweetened in a way that creates a thick syrup, with dough plopped on top like individual biscuits that when baked looks like a cobblestone street

CRISP – fresh fruit, spiced with cinnamon [+ other spices sometimes], baked with streusel topping

CRUMBLE – buttery crumbs that include oats with sweetened fruit baked between two layers of crumbs

GRUNT – fruit base with sweetened biscuits or dumplings on top, cooked in covered skillet on the stove top, named for the sound the fruit makes while it cooks

PANDOWDY – a baked pie [usually apple] that has a thick crust on top with slits that allow the juices to bubble up onto the top of the pie, then using a spoon one pushes the crust down as it bakes so that the dessert looks dowdy when taken from the oven

PIE – sweetened and thickened fruit as the filling, baked, usually in a round pan, between lower pastry and top pastry or crumb topping

PING – fruit [usually cherries], covered in a sweet sauce, with spoonfuls of dough that form a crust on top that when tapped makes a hollow pinging sound that indicates it’s finished baking

SHORTCAKE – I’m not going down this road again… click here & read what we discussed earlier this year

SLUMP – fruit base with sweetened biscuits or dumplings on top, cooked in covered skillet on the stove top wherein the topping slumps into the fruit

• • •

Sources of general information + a few specific recipes: Serious Eats, Huffington Post, the spruce Eats, FLOURISH, kitchn, Cook’s Country, COOKS.COM.

• • •

I’ve eaten 9 of the 12 desserts defined above.  I’ve not had Brown Betty, nor have I had Grunt or Slump– which some sources say are the same thing.  🤨